While the calendar says we should be emerging from the icy grip of Winter, the weather we are experiencing at the moment suggests a different truth. There is still plenty of time to partake in a bottle of one of our favourite cold weather wines, the mighty Shiraz.
From the steep terraces overlooking the Rhone river, producing elegant wines with signature black pepper notes (e.g. Romain Duvernay St. Joseph), to the enclaves of Southern Australia, the Barossa Valley being the best known, with its own signature hints of dark chocolate (e.g. Penfolds Grange), Syrah/Shiraz has become one of the world’s widest planted grape varieties, even gaining momentum in traditional Cabernet Sauvignon strongholds like South Africa or the land of the once dominant Carignan, the Languedoc.
Here are some wines that show why Shiraz keeps growing from strength to strength:
Produced by renowned Aussie winemaker John Quarisa, this is a multi-award winning wine with wonderful aromas of dark fruits on the nose with hints of vanilla, followed by intense flavours of blackberries and a touch of chocolate, backed up by rich, smooth tannins. It is a superb wine at a magnificent price: only €9.99, reduced from €12.99.
Coming from the award winning vineyards of Foncalieu, this wine has an intense, deep purple colour. The aromas are mixed and complex at first with spices, leather and violette flower and then blackcurrant and toasted notes appear. It’s full-bodied on the palate with flavours of raspberry, strawberry and cherry, soft tannins & long length, coming in at €12.99.
The Potts family arrived in Australia in 1836 and recognised the potential of the Langhorne Creek, with its red soils and a ready water source from the river Bremer, to produce quality wines. The vineyards used to produce the Bremerview Shiraz today overlook the river, hence the name. The wine has intense ripe dark berry fruit aromas. A touch of cinnamon. The palate is dense with blackberry preserve and smoky oak flavours and lovely lingering fruit sweetness. €15.99
Thistledown is a relatively new Australian wine producer with a love for the traditional and a strong Irish connection, Fergal Tynan MW is one of the founders. The wine is sourced from 60 year old vines (hence the ancient name) and uses old techniques in the form of the basket press. The finished article is concentrated, lush and creamy on the palate with perfumed, powerful dark fruits and hints of liquorice. €24.99
The Greenstone vineyard was purchased in 2003 by viticulturalist Mark Walpole, formally chief viticulturist for Brown Brothers, Tuscan winemaker Alberto Antonini and Master of Wine David Gleave. This trio were attracted to the town of Heathcote by the potential of the ancient red soils to create a unique and spectacular wine.
Giving the wine 94 points, James Halliday of the Australian Wine Companion described the wine as:
Medium purple-crimson; the very fragrant bouquet of spicy red berry fruits leads into a tightly focused and very elegant palate with a mix of savoury/earthy red and black fruits, the tannins fine and long, oak playing a pure support role. €29.99